Why I Decided to Franchise! Interview with Natalie Standridge
This week we sat down with Natalie Standridge, Founder & CEO of Casa de Corazón, to find out why she decided to franchise and all of the positives that have come since making this decision. Our vision is to intentionally increase the social impact of early childhood education through impeccable standards of professional development, honest communication, mutual respect, community engagement, accountability, and innovation in a supportive and caring learning environment. Through this interview we explore how this is always carried out at each center. We also highlight the benefits of being locally owned and operated.
Why did you decide to franchise? What made you make this decision after being open for so many years?
There was a point in my career where I owned five Casa centers, and what I found when I had more than three, is that my time was spread way too thin. I was not able to fully integrate with all the families and staff like I wanted to. I wanted to know everyone by name like when I had two centers and that was just not happening. That is why I decided to franchise. I think Casa is a valuable resource for so many communities and each center needs great attention, care, and dedication to make a difference in the lives of families.
The franchise owner is hands-on and is a person who is invested in their families because in this industry having relationships with them is crucial. Another thing is that the franchise model is the best growth model for reaching other markets. When I first started this in the Twin Cities no one else was doing anything close to what I created. I was offering bilingual education, organic food, and intercultural teaching. There are so many markets nationwide that have no one doing anything like us. Or have centers that are not aligned with their community values. The local franchise owner helps us build those connections with the community. They help us grow while always being present and giving back.
What would you say to parents who might view the franchise model negatively?
I used to think franchising was a bad thing and thought it was just big business. But when I started exploring the idea of franchising and connecting with other professionals in the industry, I was blown away with how kind and welcoming other franchise owners were. This is actually a warm industry. People in this industry want to help others thrive, survive, succeed, and open their local business.
For example, my Shorewood location. Nick Plummer, the owner, was an enrolled parent with kids at Casa and had family in Wisconsin. He decided that Wisconsin would be a great place for a Casa center because there was nothing like this out there. Nick is thriving in his community. He is connected through various mom groups, farmers markets, he attends the downtown tree lighting ceremony, and is actively engaging with his community.
Although we have now moved out of state and that is a significant step in our growth, this does not make us a chain. We are truly a business that is locally owned and operated. I love that I get to foster opportunities for other people to be local business owners while giving them lots of support. As a business owner, I can share this model with people who want to be in business for themselves but not by themselves.
Franchising is the best way to grow and maintain the high quality standard we have always been so proud to provide to our families. And I hope people can see that. Other communities should have the opportunity to experience this amazing thing we have created.
How did you prepare to start the franchise model?
It was a lot of work in the beginning. It took me a couple of years until I launched my first FDD. In those years I had to very carefully detail and document all of our processes. Our quality must be replicable at each center. We created loads of training guides and operations manuals. We want all of our locations could carry out what we wanted them to with as much guidance as possible.
Lastly, what do you look for in a person who wants to open a franchise?
The most important, I would say, is value alignment. It is very important for me that people are coming to this opportunity for the right reasons. We are very family oriented and relationship based. The franchise owner must be someone aligned with our vision and values. Another thing is if they have previous experience either running a business or in education, and preferably experience managing employees.
If you are interested in our franchise opportunity go here for more information!